The book under review here is a selection of columns contributed by the author, between December 2006 to December 2008, to the Business Standard and Outlook. As one may expect from such a volume, a large number of questions of contemporary relevance are touched upon in these short essays although the major concerns of the book happens to be the recent global economic crisis and its implication for India, as well as reflections on critical issues facing the Indian economy.
In a refreshing departure from existing studies and understandings of urban informal economy in general, and, scavenging, waste and recycling economy in particular, the above book provides a contextualized picture of a waste and recycling chain, which study necessitated that the author supplement field economics with anthropology and sociology, quantitative with qualitative methodology, and traverse different levels—micro, meso and macro.
The book is the outcome of a network called the Dowry Project, established in 1995 at an International Conference on Dowry and Bride Burning at Harvard, with the aim of encouraging , sharing and disseminating research in the areas of dowry, bride burning and son preference in South Asia and its diaspora.
R.S. Sharma’s work is marked by a particular and long-term commitment to both his politics and history. The essays in this volume address many themes: from colonial historiography to nationalist utopias; from issues of methodology to the mode of production; from marking transitions to a detailed study of social relations. Taken together, they provide both a starting point to discuss his work and an indication of the range of his interests.
Kumkum Chatterje’s The Cultures of History in Early Modern India is an extremely important contribution on a range of themes which include historiography and historical traditions, the relationship between an imperial centre and (its) province, as well as, culture and power.
Andhra Pradesh History Congress has been doing commendable work in furthering the cause of historical research in that part of the country, taking the most recent advances in the discipline to the researchers and teachers there as well as publishing the rather ambitious series on the Comprehensive History and Culture of Andhra Pradesh, of which this is the third volume.
Vijai Pillai, the author of this posthu-mously published work, was terminally ill with cancer when he wrote to a friend: ‘Death for me is a great theme, worthy of a greater subject than my pains, and I wish to approach it with my mind and spirit in full flow in open amazement that my life, like any life, ever was, and is now going.
Sikeena Karmali’s ‘Chahar Bagh: The Mulberry Courtesan’ is the longest in this collection of twenty-two stories. Like Tabish Khair’s
‘Night of 16th January, 1955,’ Uzma Aslam Khan’s ‘From Trespassing’ and Mohsin Hamid’s ‘The Reluctant Fundamentalist,’ it is an extract out of a novel, although this one was awaiting publication when this book appeared in print. Its length would justify the present compilation being called Chahar Bagh and Other Stories.
Tlism-i-Hoshruba, an epic fantasy, a part in the long series of Hamza dastans, was in many ways a watershed in the popular Urdu litera
ture of its time and continues to generate academic and popular interest till date. In that it compares with Greek myths or Homer’s epics.